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Leupold Riflescope

Written by Kevin Davis

Fortunately for officer safety in the field and effectiveness of gunfire on target, the concept of the police carbine in America today has gained widespread acceptance. But a rifle is of no use if you are unable to get fire on target quickly. In both the military and police world, reflex or holographic sights have proven themselves to be as accurate as, and certainly faster to use than, iron sights.

So, with the proliferation of collimator or reflex sights, it has really come down to which red-dot or scope to choose. A bunch of different sighting options are available. Leupold, manufacturer of fine magnifying rifle optics, has its hat in the ring with several sights to mount atop your patrol carbine to improve performance.

To magnify or not to magnify? That is the question. What are your mission parameters? That would be the basis of my answer. Of course, the simple notion that you might be in a gunfight to begin with, and in a gunfight using a rifle, means that you are off the statistical grid.

Whether you are a patrol officer or tactical team member, rural or urban, searching a residence or providing perimeter security, factor in what you and your rifle must do. The answer for most law enforcement officers has been a non-magnifying optic. Regardless of your choice, Leupold has got you covered.

Prismatic Riflescope

First up is the 1x sight designed for speed of acquisition. The 1x14 Prismatic Tactical Sight incorporates Leupold’s Circle Plex™ reticle. This sight works with or without the illumination module. Put simply, even without batteries, the Prismatic sight provides an aiming reticle.
The Circle Plex is a center dot with four crosshair lines emanating outward from the center at the compass points. There is a larger outside circle as well, so you have several different sighting options depending on the distance. From across the distance of a standard room, simply place the larger circle where you want your rounds to go.

This is a fast system, which at 6 feet gives you an aiming circle of about 3 inches on target. At 10 feet, the circle covers 6 inches of target space, and the crosshairs cover 10 inches. If a more precise shot is needed at distance, the center dot can be used, or simply center the crosshairs.

Height and weight on the Prismatic are 4.5 inches by 12 ounces. Leupold states the tube is the most rugged sight it has ever built. It measures 30mm. To better explain the reticle, it can be illuminated by a single CR1/3N battery system, or it can be used without illumination as the etched reticle appears black. One press of the button turns the red LED on with eight different brightness settings available. A built-in low battery indicator blinks 10 times when you power up the unit if your battery is below 25 percent.

I found the sight well built with an integral Picatinny mount. Leupold has engineered spacers for the mount so you can raise or lower the height to co-witness with your backup iron sights. Once powered, presentations from low ready brought the sight quickly into view.

Call it a preference or an expectation, but a couple of concerns exist with the reticle and battery. The reticle is a little busy for my taste what with the crosshairs, a larger circle and center dot. As for the battery, it was a trip to Radio Shack to get the CR 1/3N, 3-volt battery. They are about $14 each. The good thing is that you only need one battery; the bad thing is that you need to have a spare handy because they are not readily available.

Mark 4 CQ/T Riflescope

So the question of whether to magnify or not can be answered with “yes.” The CQ/T (Close Quarters Tactical Riflescope) from Leupold offers the best of both worlds with its variable one to three magnification. Assigned to an entry team on a narcotics search warrant or violent felon arrest warrant, turn the ring counter-clockwise to set it to 1x for use as a non-magnified red-dot. When assigned to perimeter duty or faced with an assailant at a distance, a clockwise turn of the ring dials the magnification up to 3x.

The CQ/T has a circle/dot reticle which can be illuminated to 10 different settings including two NV (night vision) compatible. When working outside during the daytime, you can turn the illumination module off and still get a strong black circle-dot reticle. The battery issues I experienced with the Prismatic are not present with the CQ/T as it uses one readily available AA battery, which has a life of approximately 600 hours with the system, according to the manufacturer.

A SWAT associate of mine (and president of the Ohio Tactical Officers Association) is Sergeant Sam Todd from Metro-SWAT, a multi-jurisdiction team in northeast Ohio. He carried a CQ/T sight on top of his personally owned carbine, so I gave him a call for his comments. Todd commented favorably about the operational performance of this sight during actual SWAT callouts.

This is a stout sight that weighs in at 18.4 ounces (battery included) and is 8.5 inches in length. The sight comes complete with options for M-16/M-4 carrying handle mounting or mounting to a flat-top carbine. I spent some time with Todd’s carbine at the Cleveland Police outdoor range and appreciated its speed to target at 1x as well as the ability to get a little closer optically for medium distance shots.

One negative existed with this carbine setup. Due to the length of the sight tube, it is difficult to get a co-witness with the back-up iron sights. Although the sight operates without the battery-illuminated red circle-dot, it would be preferable to use the iron sights. Co-witness would be possible if the CQ/T was mounted atop one of the new monolithic rail platforms where you could mount it a little more forward to give room to mount a rear backup iron sight.

The CQ/T sight exists in a time when “mini” and “micro” are words that are used to describe red-dot sights coming on the market. Neither word can be used to describe the Close Quarter Tactical Riflescope, but adjectives like sturdy, rugged and stout can.

Mark AR 3–9x40mm Riflescope

New from Leupold is the variable Mark AR series. These precision riflescopes from Leupold offer much to the police urban sniper or spotter using an AR platform. Fit and finish of the sight is what we have come to expect from Leupold. The 12.4-inch scope weighs in at 12.5 ounces with a 1-inch tube. With one-half MOA adjustment, the dials are the Leupold clicks you have come to know. The Mark AR is available in either a standard Duplex or Mil Dot reticle.

Leupold has engraved a bullet-drop compensation (BDC) dial into the elevation turret that matches the ballistics of the 55-grain 5.56 NATO load. Leupold claims using the BDC is as simple as turning the turret to “5” when confronted with a 500-yard shot. Leupold sent a Mil Dot sample of the Mark AR sight for testing, but alas it was too close to deadline to wring it out on the range.

One of the largest and highest quality scope manufacturers in the world, and one that completely understands the police use of optics with 100 years of experience, Leupold has something for everyone.

Kevin R. Davis is a full-time officer with 29 years of experience. Assigned to the Training Bureau where he specializes in firearms and tactics instruction, he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency’s SWAT team. He can be reached at kd1@advancedtacticalconcepts.com.

Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2011

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